Even as 1 in 5 adults ages 55 and older plan to “cut the cord” this year, older adults are still attached to traditional TV. June 2021 data from Nielsen reveals that adults 55+ dominate the total time spent watching linear TV.
Supporting earlier data from Nielsen showing that older adults (ages 50+) watched between about 5 and 6.5 hours per day in Q3 2020, this recent data from June 2021 indicates that although they account for less than one-third (31%) of the total minutes spent watching TV, 60% of the minutes spent with linear TV is by US adults ages 55+. Similarly, MarketingCharts’ US Media Audience Demographics report shows that adults ages 55+ were 16% more likely than the average adult to watch broadcast TV on a weekly basis.
Not only are older adults much more likely than other generations to watch linear TV, but they also make up a large portion of the time spent on other viewing platforms such as The Roku Channel (47%), Tubi (45%) and Amazon (37%), as well as MVPD/vMVPDs (45%). The only stand-out is Disney+, where adults ages 55+ account for a scant 9% of the total minutes spent on the platform.
Far behind the 55+ group, but nonetheless in the mix for traditional TV, are adults ages 35-54. Making up 26% of total TV universe time, this group accounts for about one-quarter (24%) of minutes spent with linear TV. Their attention appears to be divided across platforms, accounting for one-third of the total minutes on Amazon, Tubi and MVPDs/vMVPDs and about one-quarter (23%) on both The Roku Channel and Disney+.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, adults ages 18-34 are one of the least likely generations to spend time with linear TV. Despite representing about one-quarter (23%) of the TV Universe in terms of minutes watched, they constitute only 9% of the total minutes with linear TV. Instead, they’re likely to spend their TV time streaming on Disney+ (23% share of total minutes) or Amazon Prime (16%).
The youngest generation (ages 2-17) make up about one-fifth (21%) of time spent with TV. However, these younger viewers only account for 7% of total minutes with linear TV, while making up a whopping 44% of all the minutes spent with Disney+.
Race and Ethnicity Plays a Role in Viewing Choice
The report found that race and ethnicity also factor into linear TV viewership. Here is what the data reveals:
- Nearly two-thirds (63%) of the total minutes spent with TV is done by White audiences. And, while this group also makes up two-thirds of the minutes spent viewing linear TV, they also account for the majority share of minutes spent across all platforms reported on.
- Black audiences – who account for 24% of all minutes viewed across all ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) services – are more heavily represented time-wise in some streaming services than linear TV. While Black audiences accounted for 17% of the time spent with linear TV, they represented a far larger share of time spent with Tubi (39% of total minutes) and Pluto (36%).
- Comprising 19% of the total US population, Hispanics make up a similar portion (18%) of time spent with the TV Universe. They account for only 12% of total time spent with linear TV. but spend a fair amount of time with Netflix and YouTube, accounting for 22% and 21%, respectively, of the total time spent with each platform.
- Asian audiences make up only 5% of TV Universe time. They are most heavily represented in The Roku Channel (7% of total minutes) and YouTube (7%) and contribute only 3% of linear TV viewing minutes.
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About the Data: Findings are based on Nielsen, National TV Panel and Streaming Meter Homes, Share of Total Weighted Streaming Minutes, P2+, Total Day, in June 2021.